From Pastor Johnny

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What is Worship? Part 2 - "Renewing the Saint"

By Renewing the Saint

 “...and be transformed by the renewing of your mind...”

             The idea in this phrase is a mind that is continually being renewed and is consistently being a vehicle to spiritual transformation.  The word for transformation in this verse is translated “metamorphosis.”  The idea is being changed from one form to another.  Once we are born-again, God’s intention is to completely change us from who we are to who we will be.

            This plan of transformation is accomplished through the vehicle of our minds. The direction of worship for every born-again person involves a daily renewing of the mind leading to spiritual transformation.

            Worship, as a lifestyle, involves consistently allowing my mind to be washed with the Word of God.  The washing – or renewing – begins making my life increasingly reflect the character and conduct of Jesus Christ.        

            Rather than being pressed and conformed into the mold of the world and its intentions, Christians are to be changed by Christ from the inside out.  Being renewed by the Spirit of God from the inside out is part of God’s direction for worship.     

           In the 1950’s social psychologist Solomon Asch performed what is now a famous experiment on the social pressure of conformity people feel. Groups of 12 people were brought into a room, but 11 of them worked for his institute and 1 was an actual participant – thinking that everyone in the room was just like him.  These groups of 12 were asked a series of simple questions, to which there was almost no incorrect answers by the one.

            However, they were then shown four lines. One of those lines sat by itself, and the other 3 were varying lengths.  Out of the 3 lines, one only matched the length of the first.  The 11 members of the institute were told to answer incorrectly on this line question, but all answer the same. The one non-institute member in each group was then left with a dilemma.  

            They had to decide which two were the same length and publicly vote for their choice.  Person after person after person (11 in all) voted for the wrong line—because they had all been told to ahead of time. The one individual who was in the dark could not imagine how in the world all these seemingly normal people could all choose the wrong line.  When it was his turn to vote, he had to decide, “Do I go with what I know my senses are telling me, or do I go with the crowd?”  Over 30% of those tested caved in to group pressure and changed their vote to agree with their peers.                

            We will either be conformed by this world system or we will be transformed.  The world works from the outside and God works from the inside out.  When we are renewing our minds, we are in the best possible position to see God work inside out on us.  This is a direction of worship through us for our God.

Constructive Destruction: God's Great Work Through our Trials

             Some years ago, someone completely and thoroughly damaged and destroyed the outside of the church sanctuary that I pastored!

            They ripped up the pavement.  They knocked down coverings over sidewalks.  They ripped up the concrete walkways.  They even ripped out pews, ripped up carpet, tore down lights, ripped sheetrock off the ceiling, pulled insulation out of the ceiling, and tore off a couple of the front doors.

            You may be asking, “Shouldn’t you have called the police, the sheriff, the FBI, or at least the local security guard employment agency?”  That might be true any other time, but this was different.  The culprits of all that destruction on that church’s campus were concrete companies, electricians, demolition experts, and builders.  You see, after eighteen months, in the place of all that destruction, a beautiful new church sanctuary and campus front emerged.  And yet, for a while, it was a mess!

            I guess I am a little surprised at just how much destruction must take place for beautiful construction to result.  All the beauty of that new sanctuary and campus at that church would never have happened if we were not first willing to endure the mess and ugliness of demolition and destruction.

            Is that not how God works?  So much of what God does in our lives for His glory and our good happens from some of the most destructive experiences.    Once upon a time there was a church in its infancy all gathering in a city called Jerusalem.  God’s power was evident, and thousands of people were joining.

            The church grew and additional administrators had to be chosen in order to handle ministry tasks and funds.  Seven men were chosen, and one of those men was named Stephen.  He was a powerful preacher, and leader in the church.  Some of the religious leaders of the time hated Stephen so much that they decided to stone him to death.  It was an awful sight as Stephen – being pelted with large rocks and stones – called upon God and died a horrible, brutal death out in the street.

            As Stephen died, the Bible makes a footnote about a young man named Saul, as he held the coats of the stone throwers.  Saul also launched a persecution against Christians that was concentrated in Jerusalem.  Up to that point, the Christians had been primarily positioned in Jerusalem.  In Jerusalem the church gathered regularly.  Fellowship was so sweet in this new church that most of these Christians had no intent of going outside of Jerusalem.  After all, why would they leave when things were so good in Jerusalem?

            Jesus had guaranteed that the Gospel would be carried into the world – outside of Jerusalem.  If Christians stayed in Jerusalem, how would the message of Christ be spread?  This is where Stephen’s death, and the persecution came in.  Because persecution was so heavy, many Christians ran out of Jerusalem and scattered like seed.  In part, the persecution was how God began carrying the message of salvation into the world beyond Jerusalem.

            So…as it was then…it is now.  God may bring what seems to be destruction in order to construct someone for His will.  That thing that appears destructive – job loss, loss of loved one, COVID-19 crisis, or financial crisis – may be an avenue for God’s work in your life.

I have a question for you:  What destruction is happening in your life right now that God may be using to bring you to Himself?  What destructive construction may be going on in your life right now? 

Look up child of God! God’s work will never be wasted!